Fenerbahce’s star striker Robin van Persie is set for a dramatic Europa League return to Old Trafford on Thursday as his Istanbul teammates take on the Dutchman’s former club Manchester United.The 33-year-old forward enjoyed a successful career at United between 2012 to 2015, scoring 58 goals in 105 appearances. Despite having poor form in the Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig, Fenerbahce lead their Europa League group with four points.
United are having troubles of their own at home and in Europe. Managed by high-profile Portuguese boss Jose Mourinho, United are seventh in the English Premier League, trailing five points behind local rivals Manchester City. The English club failed to make a good start to its Europa League campaign, losing to Dutch side Feyenoord 1-0 away before managing to beat underdogs Zorya 1-0 at home. Possessing many stars such as towering Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, French midfielder Paul Pogba and English forward Wayne Rooney, United are third in Group A with three points.
Fenerbahce will have to do without the services of central midfielders Salih Ucan and Ozan Tufan who are ruled out through injury. The Istanbul club's Dutch right-winger Jeremain Lens is also likely to be ruled out as he is still being treated for injury. Rooney, 30, scored his first hat-trick against Fenerbahce at Old Trafford in September 2004 as United ran out eventual 6-2 winners in their sides’ Champions League clash. In October 1996, Fenerbahce edged out United 1-0 away. It was United's first-ever home loss in a European competition. Fenerbahce ended the English team's unbeaten 40-year home run in that match.
The showdown at Old Trafford will kick-off at 8.05 p.m. local time (1905 GMT).
Group A standings:
Europa League fixtures:
Celta Vigo (Spain) vs Ajax (Netherlands)
Standard Liege (Belgium) vs Panathinaikos (Greece)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs Gent (Belgium)
Atiker Konyaspor (Turkey) vs Braga (Portugal)
Krasnodar (Russia) vs Schalke 04 (Germany)
Salzburg (Austria) vs Nice (France)
Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic) vs Fiorentina (Italy)
Qarabag (Azerbaijan) vs PAOK (Greece)
Hapoel Beer Sheva (Israel) vs Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
Inter Milan (Italy) vs Southampton (England)
Steaua Bucharest (Romania) vs Zurich (Switzerland)
Osmanlispor (Turkey) vs Villarreal (Spain)
Manchester United (England) vs Fenerbahce (Turkey)
Feyenoord (Netherlands) vs Zorya (Ukraine)
Olympiacos (Greece) vs Astana (Kazakhstan)
Young Boys (Switzerland) vs APOEL (Greek Cypriot Adm.)
Saint-Etienne (France) vs Gabala (Azerbaijan)
Mainz 05 (Germany) vs Anderlecht (Belgium)
Dundalk FC (Republic of Ireland) vs Zenit (Russia)
AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands) vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Roma (Italy) vs Austria Wien (Austria)
Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic) vs Astra (Romania)
Genk (Belgium) vs Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
Rapid Wien (Austria) vs Sassuolo (Italy)